Sami Zayn reflects on 2020 Intercontinental run, carrying Canada’s WWE torch


Sami Zayn’s Intercontinental Championship run this year was significant by several different measurements.

From a Canadian perspective, the most remarkable aspect is the fact that Zayn was the 15th Canadian to ever capture the Intercontinental title, joining a list that includes Bret Hart, Roddy Piper, Edge, Kevin Owens and the first ever Intercontinental champion Pat Patterson, among others.

"Damn, that’s a hell of a list to be on, man. That is some world-class talent," Zayn says with a big smile on his face. And the smile is justified. Zayn has earned the right to slot his name next to the Canadian elite when it comes to pro wrestling.

During his run as Intercontinental champion in 2020, Zayn was not shy in promoting the fact he’s Canadian. Ahead of his Survivor Series matchup against United States Champion Bobby Lashley, Zayn was always quick to note that, in addition to Canada, he was also representing all countries as Intercontinental champ in contrast to his opponent representing just one country.

It was a loose callback to one of the greatest long-term angles in the history of WWE, when Bret Hart was a hero in Canada thanks to his patriotism for the Great White North while at the same time vilified in the United States for his insulting comments towards America.

"When I got the opportunity to go against Bobby Lashley, I was kind of trying to play on that," Zayn tells Sportsnet. "I would love to do a more modernized version, a bit more of an intellectual approach, a bit more of a factual approach to what Bret did in 1997 because I thought it was revolutionary. It’s never been done before, and it’s never been done since. Global hero, (but) despised in one country like that."